Unions say that Interserve and Babcock & Wilcox Vølund (BWV) are paying skilled construction workers just £7 per hour rather than the £16.64 per hour set down in the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry.
The GMB union, which represents construction workers in the sector, is holding demonstrations today at energy from waste plants that Interserve and BWV are building in Rotherham, Port Talbot and Dunbar.
Today's demonstrations follow previous protests last month.
An Interserve spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that protests have been called again. We comply with UK legislation on pay and generally use UK contractors and UK supply chain partners on these projects. We have discussed the matter with the unions and will continue to work with them to try and find a solution that is acceptable to everyone.”
Phil Whitehurst, GMB national officer for engineering construction, said “GMB members in the engineering construction sector are being debarred from employment on energy from waste (EfW) facilities being built around the UK.
“Unscrupulous construction companies using spurious umbrella companies exploit non-UK workers at rates of pay as low as £7 per hour rather than paying £16.64 per hour which is the applicable rate through direct employment and utilising UK collective agreements.
“This undercutting effectively disadvantages UK construction workers and subsequently GMB members.
“GMB and Unite intend to launch a major campaign to get politicians in the UK and the European Union to implement the provisions of social Europe which were intended to go hand in hand with the free movement of labour across the European Union. As things stand we have a total one way street where undercutting of pay is happening on an industrial scale right across the UK. This cannot be allowed to continue.”
The Interserve/BWV joint venture awarded Croatian company Ðuro Ðavokic the contract to manufacture and install the main boilers for all three energy plants.
Gary Cook, GMB officer for engineering workers in Scotland, said. “How can the government turn a blind eye to the exploitation of these workers who will be paid as little as £6.98, 63% below the recognised national agreement rates for engineering and construction workers? What chance does local skilled labour have at these exploitative rates?
“This is yet another glaring example of a missed opportunity to protect what little construction work Scotland has. The government should be sending a message out loud and clear: Scotland is a no go area for exploitation and social dumping and it will not be tolerated at the cost to our skilled workers and young people desperate to get a craft apprenticeship."
GMB regional organiser Bob McNeill added: “Interserve and Babcock Wilcox Vølund are undermining our agreement by exploiting non-UK workers and paying inferior terms and conditions. This is nothing other than social dumping."